Today on Equal Pay Day, which highlights the 4.5 extra months women would need to work to earn what men earned in 2011, it’s time to face the reality that the laws put in place to bar gender-based wage discrimination in the U.S. are not working.
Nationally, women who work full time are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. African-American women are paid 62 cents, and Latinas are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to men. The gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, according to nonprofit advocacy group The National Partnership for Women & Families. At this rate, women’s pay will not catch up to men’s for another 40 years.
“Women need to demand equal pay,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “Women are the most significant economic engine in the U.S. Pay women equally and it would raise the GDP by up to 9%.”
Women working full time, year round in the U.S. earn a median annual salary of $36,931, compared to men’s $47,715. That means American women earn $10,784 less than men each year. A National Partnership analysis shows that if that gap were closed, women in the state of Washington could buy an additional 1.7 years’ worth of food; Colorado’s working women could afford 2,746 more gallons of gas; women in Wisconsin could afford 14 more months of rent; and Connecticut women could pay for 3.7 years’ worth of family health insurance premiums.
“With state economies struggling and women increasingly serving as the sole or co-breadwinners for their families, tens of thousands of dollars in lost wages each year takes a tremendous toll,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership. “This new analysis illustrates just how much harm the wage gap does to women and families throughout the country.”